Unlicensed Operators Get Warning from Greek Gaming Authority

Launching an advisory notice, Athens-based independent public authority the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) stated that it has resumed its responsibilities to control the provision of online gaming services in the jurisdiction and added that licenses to offer any online gaming service in Greece are subject to the successful award following a formal tender process, a process that has yet to launch.

The Commission also advised that a transitional period allows license holders in European Union (EU) member states to continue services until formal licenses have been awarded if they join a retrospective voluntary taxation scheme – an advice to which twenty-four companies have already abided and joined the tax scheme, in return getting temporary licenses.

However, since according to the Commission there are many more that are still offering "non-licenced services online," it started handing out public warnings from November 5, 2012, requesting such operators to block accessibility to the Hellenic Republic by December 6, 2012, otherwise they’ll be included on a newly developed blacklist and face a felony charge that carries a minimum ten year jail sentence and/or a fine ranging between Euro 200 000 and Euro 500 000.

Still, there are many that oppose such a measure, including the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) which has laid a formal complaint with the European Commission on behalf of major operators, in which it calls the law protectionist.

According to Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive of the RGA, "These measures have clearly been introduced in haste and we cannot believe that they have been approved by the European Commission. They are blatantly protectionist in nature and if EU Internal Market rules mean anything then the European Commission must take prompt action to make Greece reconsider.

"However, for obvious reasons, we are also looking at potential action in the Greek courts. Whether it is raised in Brussels or Athens, nobody could fail to note coincidence that these measures have been rushed through with a ridiculously short deadline at a time when the Greek Government is actively looking to sell its share in OPAP, which currently has a monopoly in exactly the markets where our members would inevitably compete directly with it."

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